Eurocopter has now sold more than 500 EC 135s (nearly 90 of those ordered in 2005 alone) and 50 percent of those were destined for U.S. customers. Now the OEM is in the final stages of certifying a new model, offering an increased takeoff weight, from 6,237 pounds to 6,402 pounds and a reduction in empty weight to 3,201 pounds. Useful load is therefore increased by 176 pounds–the equivalent of an extra passenger, 62 miles more range or 30 minutes extra endurance. A reduction in the weight of IFR-specific equipment adds another 20 pounds to the weight saving.
The new variant, powered by either the Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 or the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2, has been christened the EC 135 T2i or P2i, respectively. Retrofits will be available to T2 and P2 operators.
Eurocopter said it introduced more than 100 improvements to the EC 135 during 2005, including better corrosion protection and new FADEC software. Inspection intervals have been extended–some of them have been eliminated–and a new helicopter does not require one until it has been flown 400 hours.
Production has been increased again, by 20 percent to 86 units, and Eurocopter is celebrating the achievement of 100-percent on-time and on-quality deliveries during 2005. Exactly 76 helicopters were delivered worldwide last year. One-third of them went to the U.S.